As we grew up, my sisters, brothers and I dressed in fur from my father’s trapline – hats, mittens, mukluks, and parkas, all made by my mother. They worked hard supplementing their incomes and improving our lifestyle by sewing and trapping. Like most Northerners, my family proudly wears fur and we want to encourage the widespread acceptance of fur for warmth. There is an authentic connection with the land that occurs when we look to nature to provide.
My lovely mother, Mrs. Jane Dragon, is a Chipewyan Dene woman, originally from northern Saskatchewan. At 77, she has lived in Fort Smith, Northwest Territories, since she was 10 years old. She and my father, David, had celebrated 53 years of marriage when he passed in April, 2012. Together, our parents raised 6 children and now her family includes 13 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren.
Setsuné (grandmother in Chipewyan) is a talented seamstress; sewing with furs and hides for most of her life. Her garments have been showcased in a special gallery in the Canadian Museum of History in our nation’s capital region. Her handiworks are enjoyed by people from around the world and Setsuné continues to sew her own unique creative pieces. She is the Cultural Adviser for Aurora Heat and her favorite greeting is Thá Huná ~ May you live a long time!
Aurora Heat, Inc. is based in Fort Smith and employs Northerners in the production of our hand and foot warmers. One of the joys of being in my hometown is spending time with my mom. Our parents are our first teachers and their knowledge and love is boundless – these are precious days for me. My son and niece are among the employees of Aurora Heat and I love making it “our” business.
While I count my blessings, there are couple of things I feel particularly proud of. Firstly, I am thrilled to be bringing back and sharing a traditional way of keeping warm. Since I started this company, Elders have shared their stories of the long ago practice of stuffing fur in mitts and
mukluks. In the old days, it was rabbit fur which was easily accessible and “disposable”. Modern tanning and newer methods of processing beaver fur had us choose sheared beaver for its durability and incredible softness.
Secondly, in our workshop, at the end of the day, there is a no garbage in a bin. We use all parts of each and every hide and try to run a responsible and sustainable business. As a committed nature lover and environmentalist, I love creating and making available natural products, especially these ones that replace disposables. The closer we are to nature for our basic needs, all the better for our planet.
While developing more products, I am looking forward to continuing with the minimalist approach to expansion – more products and all fur for warmth. May the fur be with you!
Detł’ogh Nedhël (Chipewyan) – Fur Warmth – pronounced: A-rawh Nay-thawl